Having reviewed different noninvasive treatments for lumbar (lower back) pain and finding that medications provide only small to moderate improvements in pain levels, the ACP recommends first trying, for pain that lasts under 12 weeks, and most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence).
If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or skeletal muscle relaxants.
For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate-quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, or spinal manipulation
Continuing our list of DO’S and DON’T for yoga poses:
Don’t round up from a standing forward fold with straight legs. This action can compress the discs of the anterior spine and aggravate back pain.
Do rise up from a forward fold with knees slightly bent, and use core support (a slight engagement of the pelvic floor and lower belly) as you lift your torso.
Don’t forget core strength. Yoga sequences often focus more on stretch than on strength. Stretching can be great for alleviating tightness in back muscles, and poses we might associate with a nice back stretch such as marjaryasana (cat-cow), balasana (child pose), ananda balasana (happy baby), and supine twists may feel good, but they don’t contribute much to building core strength, which is important for back health.
To strengthen the back of a structure we must balance the support in the front. That’s why poses that incorporate abdominal and back strength are important for back health.
You can build abdominal strength with postures like paripurna navasana (boat), utkatasana (chair), plank and forearm plank, and vasisthasana (side plank), and back strength with postures like salabhasana (locust) and virabhadrasana III (warrior III).
Strengthening abdominal and back muscles supports better spinal alignment, and these are the types of poses you might look for in a back-health-focused yoga class.
Caring for your back means developing healthy postural and movement habits and practising postures and exercises that can build the muscle strength that will give your spine the support it needs.
Now medical professionals are even beginning to recommend these methods over medication for the treatment of temporary or chronic low back pain, so if you suffer from back pain try putting down the pills (with your doctor’s OK), sitting up straight, moving about with more awareness, and hitting the mat for a strength-building, tension-busting yoga session to subdue that troublesome ache and find the joys of unimpaired motion once again.
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